Tonight, Nashville season 5 will air its first episode since Connie Britton’s exit, and it makes some sense for this one to be emotional. Characters will be remembering the Rayna James in the context of the story, and we’re also going to see actors missing having her there. After all, this is a woman who was a huge component in the story for the first four seasons, and losing her now changes almost everything.
For Hayden Panettiere in particular, she admits that the entire series is going to be different for her moving forward. Speaking to Access Hollywood Live! in a new interview, the actress gave her reaction to moving forward without her longtime co-star:
“I was terrified, because she has always been there from the beginning, and we have always been such a team — and such a support for one another, and our characters. I felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, we are all going to have to carry this show without her.’ That’s a really overwhelming idea.”
In the end, the show will go on when it comes to the story, including for Hayden’s Juliette. The question for the most part is just how the series will be telling some of these stories, and if there will eventually be another character who comes in and effectively takes the place of Rayna. We honestly hope that this doesn’t happen in the context of there being a new character, mostly because of the fact that it would feel obvious what the show is doing. Maybe you can bring in someone who wasn’t a main part of the show previously and put them in that role, but that may be the best solution beyond just having Juliette go it alone.
There is a little more story coming for Nashville season 5 this winter. Beyond that, there will be a longer hiatus before the show comes back for more. It may be after that time when we start to get accustomed to the story’s new feel.